Logan, WV 1952 Centennial Celebration Photo Album

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Logan, WV 1952 Centennial Celebration Souvenir Photographs by Don Freeman Special thanks to Deborah Durham, Director of the Museum in the Park and Ralph H. Mcneely for sharing the photos contained in this album. If anyone can identify any of … Continue reading

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Directory of Logan, WV circa 1925

A Detailed Directory of Logan, WV
circa 1925.

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Special thanks to Jack Browning for providing a copy of this historical directory.

The content on this page is for educational purposes and is used in accordance with the Fair Use Law (Per Title 17—United States Code—Section 107).

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Development of Education

Development of Education
By J. A. Vickers

The history of Logan County dates back to the French and Indian War. The settlers were all uneducated me setting out into a strange country as pioneers, courage and a will to win being their only tools. Among these early settlers was a man by the name of Boling Baker, a deserter from General Braddock’s army. He was taken in Ohio by a tribe of Shawnee Indians whose chief, Cornstalk, decided to make him run the gauntlet. He was persuaded by his daughter to spare Baker’s life and put him in their tribe. Baker later married this daughter whose name was Aracoma, who became princess of the race. In 1765, they settled on what is now known as the Midelburg Island and the City of Aracoma was named in honor of the princess.

J. A. VickersIn 1799 William Dingess starter the first settlement in Logan. He built his home near the present site of the courthouse, this proved to be very desirable spot and soon more people settled here and in 1824 Logan County was created and received its name from a red foeman, Logan, the Mingo Chief.

The first store in Logan County was opened by Anthony Lawson in 1821. He brought his merchandise from Baltimore over the national road to Wheeling, down the Ohio River in flatboats, and up the Guyandotte. River in canoes.

The Guyandotte River received its name from Henry Guyan, a Frenchman, who had an Indian trading post at the mouth of the river before the county was settled by white men.

The county seat was then known as “The Islands.” In 1827 the name became Lawnsville; in 1852 the name was change to Aracoma, and finally, in 1907 it was changed to Logan because there had been a post office there for some time which was called Logan Court House.

The fist school house in the county was erected by Peter Dingess upon the ruins of an Indian lodge on the island. Later Lewis B. Lawson erected a log house near the mouth of Dingess Run for a school building. George Bryant taught the first school in this building, and was assisted by a Methodist circuit rider’s wife, whose name was Mrs. Graves, from Kentucky. In these schools there were no uniform rulings. Each teacher followed his own plan; each pupil studied what he pleased. One was considered sufficiently educated when he had finished McGuffey’s Reader and Ray’s Arithmetic.

The first high school in Logan was organized August 28, 1911, in what is now known as the Central Grade Building. F. O. Warner was appointed principal. There were sixteen pupils enrolled. Ths school was classified as a third-rate high school and it was not until 1914 that the school became a first-class high school.

During the years 1914-1915, the Junior High School building was constructed and was first occupied by the Logan High School. By 1921 the enrollment had increased to the point where it was necessary to have another building and the present Senior High School was built. In 1930 the school became a member of the Secondary Schools and Colleges.

Thus was the beginning of one of the wealthiest and most progressive sections of West Virginia as we see it today.

1890 Rum Junction School, Rum Creek, WV1952 Logan County High Schools*This article was originally published in the 1952 Centennial Program Booklet published by the City of Logan, WV.

The content on this page is for educational purposes and is used in accordance with the Fair Use Law (Per Title 17—United States Code—Section 107).

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My Memories of Logan

My memories of Logan – More Than Feudin’ and Fightin’

By Elizabeth Thurmond Witskhey

This article was originally published in the Spring 2000 edition of the Goldenseal Magazine. It is published here with their permission and our special thanks.

Elizabeth Thurmond, circa 1914

Young Elizabeth Thurmond posed with a favorite book for this studio portrait, circa 1914. The book is The Tale of Paddy Muskrat by Arthur Scott Bailey.

Back when I was a child, there was more going on in Logan than feudin’ and fightin’ and mine wars. Those were the events that made the newspapers, but the outside world had no idea of how wonderful it was to live in Logan, how much fun we had, or how many exciting cultural and entertainment events rode the rails into our little town.

In 1914, Logan began bursting its seams, which up until then had consisted of a sizable hill on one side and a lazy little fish-filled stream on the other. As the area coal business began to prosper and expand, satellite industries kept up the rigorous pace and the population of Logan exploded.

As always with a population explosion, the need for school facilities increased. It wasn’t long until a new junior/senior high school was built beside the ancient grade school. Mr. F.O. Woerner –know to us as “Perfesser” – reigned with an iron ruler and no one even thought of misbehaving when he was nearby. He not only kept us in line, he scared us to death – every minute of the school day. Even so, he was loved and respected as long as he lived.

Summertime in Logan meant long lazy days swimming and swinging from wild grapevines over the Guyandotte River (locally known as the Guyan River). On the last swing out, we’d let go with that deliciously scary feeling of falling out of control, until we were jolted back to our senses with the smack of the water against sunburned bodies. This activity resulted in sore muscles and skin that smarted hours afterward.

A few years later, we deserted that swimming hole for another in the nearby town of McConnell. It was just as much fun, but dangerously deep! And although we felt more daring, we were never quite as comfortable as we had been back at our old swimming hole in Logan.

Elizabeth at the Stollings Swimming Pool

Elizabeth, fourth from the left in the back row, cooled off with some friends at the new Stollings swimming pool during the late 1920s.

I remember long hay rides. In those days, we frequently persuaded Mr. J.J. Hinchman to fill the back of his huge truck with straw. About 20 kids piled in and we’d be off to some mountain spot to roast hot dogs, toast marshmallows, gobble potato salad, and gulp lemonade by moonlight. There was a lot of singin’ and not a little courtin’ going on during these evenings. Try to imagine a mad and frustrated chaperone, or a young girl visibly embarrassed because her mother had come along. All the way home we harmonized on “Down By the Old Mill Stream,” “School Days,” “I’m Forever Blowin’ Bubbles” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Elizabeth and friends at Ward Rock

The long climb to Ward Rock was worth the effort for Elizabeth, left, and her friends.

Ward Rock was an unforgettable landmark high on the hill above the high school. It was flat as a griddle and large enough for 15 or 20 kids. I never knew who originated the “let’s hike to Ward Rock” idea, but several times each year word spread that “that Saturday morning” we would make the trek. Alarms were set for 4:30 a.m., and we went to sleep dreaming of the fun-filled day that lay ahead. About 5:00 a.m. in the morning, starting with those who lived in the east end of town, one by one they came down Stratton Street, winding around Dead Man’s Curve, stopping at every gate whistling and yelling “Get up or we’re goanna leave ya!”

By the time we reached the foot of the hill, there was quite a group. Somehow, Ione Hall, the school music teacher, was always the one who got the job of chaperoning. Maybe it was because she was the youngest on the staff. It was dark as pitch that time of the day and cold enough to freeze a bird’s wing, so we all wore heavy coats caps and boots. We could hardly make the climb for all our heaving clothing but when we finally reached the summit, it felt like we were on top of the world! The sunrise seen half a century later by astronauts circling the globe was never more glorious than that brilliant diamond ball rising slowly from the hills.

Two events in May were anticipated all through the year. The first was the field day event, now call track and field. There was no county unit system in the schools then The counties were divided into districts. Each school in the district had tryouts for the various races; the winners participated in the big race on field day.

Athletic Field, Monaville, WV, 1921

Logan sports fans took the short line to Monaville for athletic events such as this 1921 football game.
(This is the field where Monitor Drive-In was located.)

Field day was always wonderful – usually hot and sunny. We crowded into cars and trucks or caught the local train for the short trip to Monaville, a coal town a few miles from Logan. Monaville – named for Mona Wilkinson, daughter of Judge Wilkinson who owned the land – had the only athletic field in Logan County large enough to accommodate the meet.

Field day was a long day and when it was over, everyone had seen enough 100-yard dashes, pole vaulting, and shot puts to last until the year. Between athletic events, there was plenty of time to eat lunch, drink warm soda pop, make new friends, fight with rivals from other schools, and sometimes start a new romance with handsome athlete from a neighboring school.

Tacky Days

“Tacky Day” was not for the shy or the faint-hearted. Elizabeth, front row center, posed with friends Bertha Browining, Mabel Hinchman, and Catherine Fisher (back row, left to right); Kenneth Klinger, left, and Julius Vitez joined Elizabeth in the fron row for this photograph, circa 1923.

The other big event in May was “Tacky Day.” For weeks everyone accumulated crazy, worn-out, raggedy clothes for the occasion. Some students were too stuck-up, afraid, or shy to “dress tacky.” But those who did participate were the strangest sight ever imagined. We had a ball, but how the teachers stood us in class all day long, I ‘ll never know. During lunch hour and after school, we roamed the streets of Logan giggling and preening in our ridiculous outfits. People stopped and stared in disgust, amusement, and disbelief. No matter the reactions, it bothered us not one iota.

One of the great delights in those days was walking home after school. School buses were nonexistent, and no one who lived with three or four miles of the school would have been caught dead riding instead of strolling home with the gang. On cold winter afternoons, those who had a nickel went to the little hole-in-the-wall hot dog stand just beyond the railroad tracks. No hot dogs were better. The steamed buns were soft and warm and the wieners were juicy and spicy, especially when smothered with chopped onions and chili. When the weather got warmer we stopped at the grocery store on Stratton Street and bought giant-sized dill pickles and gnawed on them all the way home.

Everyone loved a party! In our early party days, an evening’s entertainment was spin the plate, musical chairs, and post office. The refreshments were usually ice cream and cookies or cake, hot cocoa in the winter, and lemonade in the summer. Many were the pre-party cuts and stings I received from squeezing lemons all afternoon. Party hours were 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., and I was severely lectured when I didn’t arrive home promptly afterward.

For dances, there were no local orchestras. For small gatherings, we met in one another’s homes, rolled up the rungs, sprinkled corn meal on the floors, and Haskell Johnson played the piano for us till she dropped. Everybody knew how to dance. Helen Cox Schrader came from Charleston once a week and conducted dance classes. Those who didn’t attend were taught by those who did. Soon all the kids were gliding across the floor to the strains of “All Alone” or jumping to the “Finale Hop.” For something different, we did an inept and rather awkward version of the tango to “Hindustan” or waltzed to “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”

Big dances took place at the Aracoma Hotel, the armory, the Holden clubhouse, or a big hall at Lundale. Orchestras came by train from Huntington or Cincinnati. Once Fats Waller came – now that was Big Time! He had a mile-wide grin, and his fat stubby fingers flew across the piano keys while he stomped the beat with his black shiny shoes.

Intellectual improvements were not overlooked in Logan and the ladies of the town were the primary promoters. One of the most outstanding and brilliant women was Mrs. Innis Davis. Nothing was ever the same after she became involved. She organized the Woman Club in the early 1920’s and had the half the ladies in town enrolled in the Delphian Society – a sort of intellectual mail-order club. She then decided that Logan needed a library. She persuaded influential citizens to donate a second-floor room in the old courthouse. Since I was out of school for the summer, she summoned me – Mrs. Davis never asked and never took “no” for an answer – to keep a catalog of the books we received and to help with acquisitions. That entire summer I never had time to swim. Instead, I became Logan’s first librarian.

Innis Davis’ greatest love was the Baptist church. Someone once asked her what she’d do if she ever moved to a town where there wasn’t a Baptist church. Her instant replay was, “I’d start one!” She later moved to Charleston with her husband Tom where she eventually was appointed head of the State Museum and Archives.

No one contributed more to cultural life in Logan than Jeannette C. Sayer. She came to Logan from her native Cincinnati after World War I and taught piano and was the organist and choir director at the Nighbert Memorial Methodist Church for more than 40 years. Every spring she presented all of her piano students at a formal evening recital conducted in the sanctuary. It began with the youngest and newest students and ended with the most advanced. For years, Sarah Land (Holland) was last on the program. She was not only the best of Miss Sayre’s students, but also the prettiest. To the rest of us it seemed a very long evening, indeed!

Through her choirs, Miss Sayre introduced Logan to cantatas, oratorios, Christmas carols other that “Silent Night,” and the best of classical and religious music. Although she never appeared anywhere as a soloist, she played the great music of Bach, Handel, Mozart, and all the masters at church services. She was truly a living symbol of music in Logan.

Another fine musician was Myrtle Stone, the movie pianist. On Saturday afternoons, all the kids went to the old Bennett Theatre to see silent picture shows starring William S. Hart in a Western or the latest installment of Billie Burke in “Gloria’s Romance.” Myrtle played the piano bringing forth wild sounds, eerie noises, or quiet gentle tones to punctuate the action on the screen. She was a one-woman orchestra. She made us shiver with fright during the “Perils of Pauline.” She made us drown in romance with Mary Pickford. Her gift of improvisation was amazing. She never missed a beat as the action on the screen constantly changed. She never looked at her hands and she never so much as blinked an eye.

Two exciting annual events were on everyone’s calendar: Lyceum in winter and Chautauqua in summer. Both played to packed audiences. The Lyceum programs took place at the high school auditorium. There people listened spellbound to Russell H. Conwell deliver his famous lecture, “Acres of Diamonds.” Ida M. Tarbell, muckraker newswoman and friend of Georgia O’Keeffe, gave an evening of fiery commentary on everything happening in the world. One vivid memory is of a sensational group of our African boys in their native beads and dress – or undress – singing and beating their strange-looking drums in a unique rhythm unlike anything ever before heard in Logan.

Chautauqua was more fun! It was conducted in a giant tent pitched in a vacant field near the home of Aunt Vicey Nighbert. Each afternoon and evening there was classy entertainment by musical groups, soloists, choral groups, and instrumentalists. Well-known actors appeared in traveling Broadway productions. All of this was more or less for the adults with performances in the afternoon and evening. Best of all were the morning sessions when “children’s Chautauqua” convened. Kids of all ages attended in droves. There were stories, games, reading contests, and the thrilling rehearsals for the children’s production which took place on the final night. Heady stuff for kids living in Logan in the ‘20’s.

You see, Logan wasn’t just feduin’ and fightin’ and mine wars. It was paradise.

Elizabeth Witschey Today

by Sheila McEntee

Recounting tales of her girl-hood in Logan, an engaging and articulate Elizabeth Thurmond Witschey gestures with animation. Her eyes sparkle and a ready smile lights her face. While she conveys some of her fondest personal memories, there is a broader message she does not want her listener to miss.

“Logan was a great place to grow up,” Elizabeth says. “It wasn’t all meanness and shooting. Nobody has ever tried to give it any good publicity. I finally decided I’d do it myself,” she says, explaining how she came to write the preceding story.

Elizabeth Thurmond Witschey, at 91

Elizabeth Thurmond Witschey, at 91 years of age, still has a twinkle in her eyes and a warm spot in her heart for the years she spent growing in Logan. Photograph by Michael Keller.

The great-granddaughter of William Dabney Thurmond, founder of the town of Thurmond, and granddaughter of Joseph Samuel Thurmond, a former Speaker of the House of Delegates, Elizabeth Thurmond was born in 1908 at Skelton in Raleigh County. When she was five years old, her family moved to Logan where her father operated the Thurmond Coal Company for many years.

Upon graduation from Logan High School in 1925, Elizabeth went on to Ward Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee, and later spent three years at The Julliard School in New York where she studied piano.

While in New York, she took advantage of myriad cultural opportunities including concerts, Broadway shows, and other performances. “The teachers were always giving us tickets to something,” she adds. “And if they didn’t have tickets, it cost just $3.50 in those days to get into a show.”

Upon completion of her studies, she returned to Logan where she gave private lessons and taught piano at Logan High School. During the Depression, her father lost his Logan mines and her parents moved to Parkersburg where her father had been appointed collector of internal Revenue. It was on a visit to his office that Elizabeth met Robert E. Witschey, who was employed by her father. Elizabeth and Robert married in 1937.

The Witscheys settled in Charleston where Robert established a successful accounting firm and Elizabeth raised their son and daughter: Walter Witschey, now of Richmond, Virginia, and Sallie Hart of Charleston. Over the years, however, Elizabeth continued to pursue her music, giving many recitals and appearing as a soloist with the West Virginia Symphony and the Charleston Chamber Music Players. She also became an active community advocate for the arts and traveled extensively over the years in this country and abroad.

And there is one more, she says, calling attention to a recent photograph prominently displayed in the living room of her South Hills home in Charleston. It is a photo of her, smiling gleefully as she hugs her infant great-grandson.

“Do you know what his name is?” she asks with obvious delight. She does not wait for an answer. “It’s Logan Cole.”

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Logan Civic Little League

Logan Civic Little League Baseball

The Logan Civic Little League Association was founded by Forrest M. “Nig” Pierce, Lester “Bus” Perry and Earl Kirker.*

1965 Logan Civic Little League Booklet

1965 Logan Civic Little League Booklet courtesy of Herb Harvey.

1965 Logan Civic Little League Booklet

*Credit/Source: Dodie (Smith) Browning.

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Coal Miners

Coal Miners – The Heroes of Appalachia

The job of a underground coal miner has always been hard and dangerous. It was especially so during the early years of coal mining.  Every working day coal miners risked their lives to provide for their families.  That’s why they’re heroes.

Those of us that grew up in Appalachia during the 1940s, 50s and 60s who were the sons and daughters of coal miners will always remember how afraid we were for our fathers.

Monument to Coal Miners at Chief Logan State Park

Monument to Coal Miners at Chief Logan State Park
Donated by the United Mine Workers of America Logan County Commission, State of West Virginia
October 29, 1999

On Friday December 6, 1907 an explosion at the Number 8 mine at Monongah, WV killed over 360 coal miners. That’s why December 6th was selected as National Miners Day.

The 2nd worse WV mine disaster was on April 29, 1914 at Eccles, WV where 183 were killed.

“The deadliest year in U.S. coal mining history was 1907, when an estimated 3,242 deaths occurred. While annual coal mining deaths numbered more than 1,000 a year in the early part of the 20th century, they decreased to an average of about 451 annual fatalities in the 1950s, and to 141 in the 1970s. From 2006-2010, the yearly average number of fatalities in coal mining decreased to 35.”[1]

Getting killed on the job wasn’t the only occupational hazard of coal miners.  If they managed to survive a couple decades or so working underground, many had their lives cut short by black lung and other lung diseases related to their occupation.  This is the price they paid in order to provide for their families.

“Coal: An Appalachian Treasure” by Clara Maynard. – A video essay by a Marshall University student about coal mining and her Dehue, coal-miner grandfather.

Photo Gallery

You can help preserve a bit of our Logan County history and memories by sharing your vintage photos with us. To share a photo, please email it to the admin at loganwv.us@gmail.com. Please note that you must own the photo you are submitting or ensure that no one has a copyright claim on it. If a photo owned by you appears on this website and you do not want it here, please notify the admin for its immediate removal.

*Header image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
[1] Source: United States Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration

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1948 Logan High School

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1948 Logan High School Yearbook photos, Logan, WV. Continue reading

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1947 Phone Book

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1947 Phone Book Images courtesy of Ralph H. Mcneely. Logan-Man 1947 Phone Book Images You may also enjoy the 1969 Phone Book.

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Early Life In Logan County

Early Life In Logan County Described by K. F. Deskins

Pioneer Citizen Has Clear Recollection of Sixty Years Ago When There Were But Eight to Ten Houses Here

The Logan Banner, Nov. 12, 1937

By Stan Tobin

Sixty years ago, which is comparatively a short time in the ordinary span of things canoes and flatboats floated up and down the Guyan River, deer, bear and wild hogs roamed the hills in abundance and the few people that lived in the valley existed by what nature had to offer.

Sixty years ago not more than eight or ten houses were in the city of Logan, one homestead was at Mt. Gay, one at Midelburg Addition, and one at Stollings.

K.F. Deskins one of the foremost pioneers in the county, from whose father Deskins Addition received its name, has lived here all his life and at the age of 70, has a clear recollection of the early days.

He tells of those pioneer years as follows: “We farmed, raised cattle, kept a few head of sheep and owned 100 head of wild hogs. We also raised Geese, made our own feather beds and pillows, and sold surplus feathers to our little country store. During the winter we would run out occasionally into the mountains and kill a wild hog, or let a neighbor kill one for half the carcass. We raised cane too, and made from 90 to 100 gallons of molasses for cooking and table use. The cane was ground in an old home made mill and boiled down in three big kettles and placed in a furnace made in the ground.”

We raised corn and shelled it and took it to a water mill to Pecks Mill or Tone Lawson’s each seven miles away. It took a whole day to make the trip, get our grist and return. This supply would last about two weeks.

Merchandise all came by flatboat, pushed up the river from Guyandotte. It took about two weeks to make this trip, and there was no other way of transportation. Later on we hauled with teams and wagons from Charleston and Brownstown.

We wore what was called pee jackets, made out of gray cloth, known as Kentucky Jeans, which was tied in front in a hard knot. Mother knit our socks and suspenders. We wore leather shoes with thick soles and had laces made of ground-hog skins. Sometimes we wore moccasins made of one-piece leather. The women wore linsey dresses until three-cent calico was introduced and became very popular as a dress material. All women wore long dresses, and some wore hoops. They rode horseback on two-horn saddles, or rode behind their husbands.

Sixty years ago Mingo was embraced in Logan County. The town of Logan had but few houses. There was one house at what is now Mt. Gay. Aunt Jane Avis lived near where the power house now stands, and we could see her house from our log home. There was one house in what is now Midelburg — the home of Ed Robertson. There was one home in Aracoma where John Justice lived and had a grocery store. At Stollings, there was one house, that of James Lawson. There was a tanyard back of town near Hick White’s home. All those named are dead now.

There was not a single bridge in the county. Foot logs were used to cross the streams. A tree that would span a creek would be chopped down. It would be scored and hewn on one side and placed in a suitable position.

We owned 600 acres of the finest farm, timber and coal land in Logan County sixty years ago. Two of the boys still own quite a bit of the same property today in Deskins Addition. Our grandparents owned many slaves and lost heavily on them when they were freed.

Cookstoves, carpets, rugs, phonographs, iron bedsteads, electric light, radios, automobiles and flying machines were not dreamed of by us then.

We have seen deer come down the hill opposite our house and jump into Island Creek. We could hear foxes barking, owls hooting and wild turkeys gobbling most any morning as there were all kinds of game in the county sixty years ago.

“We could see and hear wild geese pass every fall. Wild ducks were plentiful and it was great sport to hunt and shoot them in the fall of the year. We children and mother dug wild ginseng and yellow root for a living, as this was quite a big business during the fall months.

Our forefathers of the Deskins line said our name originated from a boy child that was found on a doorstep wrapped in deerskin back in Indian times and they named him deer-skin.”

* * * *

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Mud Fork

Photos of the Mud Fork area of Logan County, WV

You can help preserve a bit of the history and memories of the Mud Fork area by sharing your vintage photos with us. To share a photo, please email it to the admin at loganwv.us@gmail.com. Please note that you must own the photo you are submitting or ensure that no one has a copyright claim on it.

Mud Fork Photo Gallery

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